Santorum and Ashes

Happy Ash Wednesday, if that is the proper greeting for the advent of the season of repentance in ashes and mourning for our sins.

On the radio this morning, I heard what I thought was a Twilight Zone episode about a parallel universe in which the human race had never heard any Bible stories, fairytales, pagan epics, nor seen the movie TIME BANDITS nor read even a single history book of the long and sad and terrible history of the human race, and so had no idea that evil was real.

In this deliriously naive parallel world, the radio was chattering nervously about some politician who made a speech a few years ago, and made reference to the Supreme Being, and also to His adversary.

One liberal commentator, Lanny Davis, apologist for the Clintons, condemned the language as moralistic and judgmental; one conservative commentator, Anne Coulter, supporter of Romney, dismissed the talk as inappropriate and distracting, saying the Republicans should concentrate on debating economic issues and leave divine issues aside.

Everyone seemed as embarrassed for the politician as they might for a bride’s maid who farts during the ceremony.

The speech they were discussing was, of course, was this one:

In this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

Oh, sorry, my mistake. That is from the D-Day prayer given by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Here, I found the speech they are talking about:

The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

Boy, what a sourpuss and a Godbotherer. Someone being so judgmental, and actually accusing this great country of falling under the  Divine Wrath and judgment of God, is such a negative view of this nation — it will not play well with the voters. In fact, this kind of moralizing is exclusionary, and unacceptable in our modern and enlightened …. uh …. Oops. Wrong again. That is from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural.

No, the speech they were discussing was given by Rick Santorum at Ave Maria University in Florida. Here are some excepts.

The Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies, Satan, would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country — the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after other than the United States, and that’s been the case for now almost 200 years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.

[…]

Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of these strong plants that have so deeply rooted in American tradition. He was successful. The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He understood pride of “smart” people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were in fact smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different, pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it, “because we’re smart;” and so academia a long time ago fell.

[…]

The next was the church. Now, you say, “Well, wait. The Catholic Church?” No. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic, but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic. Sure, the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country, and the Protestant ethic. Mainstream, mainline Protestantism. And of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country, and it is a shambles.

So, in this weird parallel Twilight Zone in which I found myself, both liberal and conservative commentators thought it worthy of comment that a practicing Catholic when addressing a Catholic audience would rebuke the sins of pride, vanity and sensuality, particularly the pride of intellectuals as seen in the La trahison des Clercs — and then rebukes the Church for falling into disarray.

The queen of the Twilight Zone is Maureen Dowd, whose reaction was to quip: “Rick Santorum has been called a latter-day Savonarola. That’s far too grand. He’s more like a small-town mullah.” and then to say “When, in heaven’s name, did sensuality become a vice? Next he’ll be banning Barry White.”

This is what passes for wit in the Twilight Zone: to express disbelieving yet smug disdain that Christians do not celebrate and laud the sins of the flesh.

In this weird parallel Twilight Zone, no one had been to Sunday School, or listened to a sermon, or else they would have heard this same theme at least once in their lives.

Neither had they ever cracked a history book, or else they would have known Western Civilization was Christian.

So Santorum said that proud academics think they are smarter than everybody and deny the existence of truth. I seem to recall the same point being made by Ayn Rand fifty years ago, and GK Chesterton a hundred years ago: and I cannot think of two writers more starkly opposite than the jovial theist anti-capitalist Chesterton and the choleric atheist pro-capitalist Rand. If they agree on something, it must be as common as table salt and as obvious as sunlight.

I cannot even see anything controversial in the comments. It is about as outrageous as upbraiding the rich for their greed or the fashionable for their vanity to upbraid the intellectual for his arrogance. Upbraiding the Church for her disarray is not outrageous at all, it is the duty of all God-fearing men. The comments would be platitudes, except that the wording is new.

Is this it? Is this what has the Mainstream media going through its ritualized foaming at the mouth and rolling on the ground in pretended epileptic paroxysms of excessive emotion? This? Seriously?

Does the media actually think this is a winning political issue for their man? To mock and deride the Christian faith, and to dismiss the majority as uncouth lunatics? To dismiss the last millennium or two of Western civilization as unsightly crackpottery?

Well, it might work in the Twilight Zone, or the weird echo chamber where the Pauline Kaels of the world live, carefully insulated from meeting any real people who know about real life — which includes, by the way, a very real Devil, who has made very real progress in America in a shorter time that I would have believed possible.

Has the Prince of Darkness already won so many hearts and souls that the slightest mention of reality, and of the real war between darkness and light that rages every day in every life, as well as in the life of a great nation, is to greeted with shock and disbelief? Is all truth, and everything interesting, or exciting, or dangerous, to be scrupulously and fastidiously expunged from the public forum?

At least one liberal commentator says yes. Truth is too judgmental, too moralistic. At least one conservative commentator says yes. Truth is not a pocketbook issue: voters are more worried about their keeping their jobs and making their mortgage payment than they are about the nosedive of this once-great nation into the outer darkness of pride, vanity and sensuality, the cold and colorless treason of the intellectuals, the shambles of the scattered flock of Christ.

Meanwhile, back in reality, in the bright sunlight far from the Twilight Zone, today is a day to initiate the season of fasting and repentance. Perhaps the first thing for which we the people should repent was letting ourselves be led so far astray, to have forgotten both the light of heaven so completely and the darkness of hell, that any mention of such high things or profound strikes the ear not merely as odd, but ugly.

Have we forgotten Christ so completely that the mere mention of His name sounds like a faux pas to us, a breach of etiquette, a curse? Or the mere mention of the name of His adversary?

Let us by all means repent in ashes that we have allowed our nation to descend into such a swamp of worldliness that even to speak as all Christians always and everywhere have spoken is thought not merely impolite, but extraordinary.

If Christ indeed is forgotten so completely, ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

 

 

 

Please read and support my work on Patreon!